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Maggie Hendricks

Despite death, track open and luge will go on as planned

Maggie Hendricks
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After an investigation by the Coroners Service of British Columbia, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and luge's international governing body, it was determined that Georgian luger Nodar Kumaritashvili's death was caused by his own error, and that the track is safe to use. From a joint statement put out by luge and Olympic officials:

It appears after a routine run, the athlete came late out of curve 15 and did not compensate properly to make correct entrance into curve 16. This resulted in a late entrance into curve 16 and although the athlete worked to correct the problem he eventually lost control of the sled resulting in the tragic accident. The technical officials of the FIL were able to retrace the path of the athlete and concluded there was no indication that the accident was caused by deficiencies in the track.

Based on these findings the race director, in consultation with the FIL, made the decision to reopen the track following a raising of the walls at the exit of curve 16 and a change in the ice profile. This was done as a preventative measure, in order to avoid that such an extremely exceptional accident could occur again.

Because of these findings, the luge races will go on as planned. Though the raised wall could prevent the horrific sight of Kumaritashvili's body flying off the track and into a metal pole, there is no proof that the changes made will keep the athletes safe.

Yahoo! Sports' Dan Wetzel wrote on the subject not long after the death of the 21-year-old Georgian.

This was no isolated incident, not just a bit of human error in an inherently dangerous sport. It was a tragedy some saw coming on the super-fast track that had produced a dozen training wrecks already and had athletes wondering whether they were being put into harm’s way in a sport already built on attaining near impossible speeds.

“I think they are pushing it a little too much,” Australia’s Hannah Campbell-Pegg told the Associated Press on Thursday after she nearly lost control in training. “To what extent are we just little lemmings that they just throw down a track and we’re crash-test dummies? I mean, this is our lives.”

Men's luge runs are scheduled to start at 8 p.m. EST on Saturday. At that point, we'll find out if the world's lugers are interested in being lemmings.

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